Simply Liv: September 2015



Hi friends!

I have exciting news- I'll no longer be blogging at this url. I've moved Simply Liv over to where I think I will be better equipped to continue to grow as a blogger and take Simply Liv in the direction I feel it is moving.

I hope you will join me!




How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe - on a budget and with little to no fashion sense (part 1)

I am not a fashionista in any sense of the word and blogging about clothes is completely outside my comfort zone. I've never been one to spend excessive amounts on clothes- in fact I'll usually wear the pieces I have into the ground before I go out and buy new things. I love thrifting and garage sale-ing. Ask my husband- he usually has to tell me to go buy new clothes. Stitch Fix has been my "guilty pleasure" as far as clothes go, but other than that, I don't really shop.

Don't get me wrong, I love dressing up and looking like I put effort in to myself. I love clothes and the way they individuate people and are a little bit like an art canvas that you wear around on your body. BUT clothes are not my "thing" and try as I may I'll never be the girl who has a closet full of brand name pieces that she can effortlessly pull off- to the envy of every one else in the room. Shopping- and all the options and styles out there, kind of stresses me out, honestly.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

When I first heard about the growing trend of creating a capsule wardrobe, I was skeptical. I mean, purposely choosing to wear the same set number of pieces for a whole season seemed a little bit ridiculous and kind of "strict".

But then I read more. As you all know, simplicity and minimalism are both very important to me, as is anything that helps to put the focus onto the immediate moment and away from unimportant things.

That is kind of what capsule wardrobes aim to do.

I read Unfancy, a blog by Caroline Rector who has largely spurred the movement on. She defines a capsule wardrobe as "a mini wardrobe made up of versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear". From there, I was hooked. I had never really thought about intentionality and clothes being compatible and the notion of capsule wardrobe completely opened my eyes to something that I think can be very healthy and beneficial.

Rector's capsules are usually around 37 pieces (EVERYTHING. Clothes, pants, dresses, shoes... except workout clothes, accessories, underwear, undershirts and special occasion clothes) that she can easily mix and match to create outfits for an entire season. Some people have even gone as extreme as creating an all seasons capsule, or limiting the number of pieces even more.

The beauty of capsule wardrobes is that they are totally customizable. If you don't like the basic, neutral look that Rector's capsules feature, include clothes that are more your style. It's the premise that stays the same: living with less in every area of life is usually a good thing. Including our clothes. It allows us to be intentional with our purchases, buying things that are not only good quality but pieces we LOVE and feel awesome in.

One day, after looking looking through my closet (which is in two separate rooms in our house for two reasons: I have WAY too many clothes, and we haven't gotten our house organized enough) and feeling like I had nothing to wear, I knew something had to change.
How does it work? 


This is definitely a no brainer. The first things to go were the clothes that I haven't worn in over a year (we all know we have them...). I whittled down my closet to pieces that I couldn't part with that I would wear NOW, not in a few months or next year. I ended up getting rid of probably 75% of my clothes.


This is where the budget piece comes in. I had a garage sale with my mom where I sold not just clothes but other random clutter (which feels SO amazing to get rid of, trust me) and made enough to supplement my new clothes for my capsule. We donated what we didn't sell, so that it wouldn't just be sitting around in boxes creating more clutter.

I also had an Instagram "shop my closet" sale for the items that weren't garage sale material, but that I still wanted to get rid of, which helped downsize even further.

3 // PLAN. 

This was the really fun part for me. It is all about intentionality and buying exactly what you need. I did all my shopping online, since our options are rather limited here.

I used Un-Fancy's free wardrobe planner, which was super helpful. I definitely recommend it if you're considering starting a capsule! I planned out exactly what I wanted my wardrobe to look like, what colors I wanted, what styles, what pieces I've always dreamed of having but never wanted to spend the money on.....

4 // SHOP

I created a secret Pinterest board for all the items I was considering, to keep them all organized. Then, when I'd found everything I needed, I bought them!

That was definitely the most money I'd spent on clothes in one sitting since high school- and it felt great because it wasn't a spur of the moment purchase. I knew that I would actually wear what I was buying and it wouldn't just sit in my closet two months later collecting dust. I bought things that were high quality and a little bit more expensive, because I knew that I couldn't just make impulse purchases whenever I felt like it.

5 // WEAR IT

I'm still waiting on a few of my packages to come in, but once they all get here, I will share my full capsule with you all! It ended up being WAY smaller than Rector's which surprised me.

Stay tuned for my next post at the beginning of next month where I'll share my capsule AND tips on how to make it work for people who don't have excuses to "dress-up" a lot. You know, those of us who work from home and live in yoga pants and t-shirts. Yep. That's who I am.

Have you heard of capsule wardrobes?  What are your initial reactions to creating one?


Simply Eat // Cheesy Seven-Layer Quinoa Dip

*DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Collective Bias Inc. and its advertiser, but all opinions and words are my own. #NatuallyCheesy #CollectiveBias * 

Have you ever invited people over to your house for dinner only to realize later that you have absolutely no idea what to make? Yeah, me too. Every single time. Last week was no exception. AJ wanted to have some friends over from work- and while I love having company- when the day arrived, I was stressed trying to decide what to make. So I headed to Walmart to look for inspiration. 
I needed something fast, healthy(ish) and simple to make- enter this quinoa dip. Not only is it extremely easy, it can be made with things you most likely have sitting in your pantry right now. It was a success with our guests (though I think AJ and I ate most of it....) and is definitely going in my recipe book of things to make when I'm in a pinch. 

I thought I'd share it with you all so that if/when you're entertaining you can have a quick, go-to appetizer as well!
Here's what you'll need:

-2 cups Kraft Cheese Natural Shreds or Big Slice- I used both because, cheese. (Side note: If you're looking to try some of the cheese for your next recipe or game day snack, be sure to stop by your local Walmart for the demos they're having on the 26th!)
-2 cups cooked quinoa
-1/4 cup sour cream
-3/4 cup black beans
-1/4 cup green onions
-1/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
-1/4 black olives
-cilantro for garnish
-tortilla chips for dipping

1 // Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine quinoa and sour cream and cheese (reserving some for the top).  

2 // Spread mixture in the bottom of a baking dish or pie plate.

3 // Next, layer the rest of the ingredients on top of the quinoa mixture. It doesn't matter what order you do this in, unless you're super OCD about your dip toppings. Here's what I did:
4 // Top with the rest of the cheese.

5 // Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
6 // Allow to cool and enjoy!

See how ridiculously simple it is? Next time you're in a hurry, try this recipe out using lots of cheesy goodness, I promise it won't disappoint.

*Tip: If you'll really be in a hurry, make the quinoa beforehand, that way you can grab it and go!

What are some of your go-to recipes? I'm all about finding ways to make dinnertime prep easier!


Simply DIY // Easy Paint Chip Calendar

Today I have another DIY that has been on the docket for a long time and I finally got around to doing it. I LOVE finding ways to create cute, practical things for my home that I'll actually use. I can't tell you how many projects I've made that have ended up in the trash a few months later because it wasn't practical or I couldn't find a space for it.

This DIY paint chip calendar is as practical as it is simple- and its pretty cute too. I'm really pleased with how mine turned out (because if you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw my embarrassing fail at version one of this project a few weeks ago....) I'm happy to say that this version actually includes every day of the week AND is much cuter.
Here's what you'll need:

Poster board
Lots and lots of paint chips in whatever colors you prefer
Washi tape
Regular Tape
A frame with glass or plastic
Step 1 // Cut the poster board to size. You could just use the back of the frame, but I chose to create a separate piece just in case it didn't turn out so that my frame wouldn't be ruined.

Step 2 // Cut the paint chips to size. This was the most meticulous part of the project, as I had to measure/eye-ball how big I wanted each day to be and try and cut them all the same size. The non-perfectionist in me was strong in this one, so forgive my crooked lines and (most likely) different sized squares. I recommend measuring and using a paper cutter if you're the "type A" type.

Step 3 // Arrange the paint chips and tape them down. Since your poster board will be held in place by the frame, I don't think it's important to use anything crazy to hold it down. I tried modpodge last time and it wasn't ideal.

Step 4 // Use washi tape (or whatever you want, really) to create your "month writing spot". That's the technical term for it, I think.

Step 5 // Frame and you're done!

I love how this turned out! And it looks pretty cute next to my little mail organizer, if I do say so myself. 
How do you keep yourself organized? Have you made anything similar to this calendar?

For more DIY's be sure to check out my "DIY" tab at the top of my blog!


How to Establish a Bedtime Routine (and why it's so important)

*DISCLAIMER: This post has been sponsored by Collective Bias inc. and it's advertisers, but all opinions are original and my own. #CollectiveBias #NaturalGoodness * 

When E was around 6 months or so we quickly learned the importance of establishing a good bedtime routine. She was not a good sleeper. She would wake 3-4 times a night for the first 6 or 7 months- until we sleep trained her, and then off an on due to moving several times and lots of schedule changes.

This definitely made for a tired mama- the kind of thing where you dream about having a full night of sleep. You know how it goes.

Eventually I started doing some research, to see if this was "normal" and if there was anything I could do to fix it. I found lots of various sleep training methods and (of course) millions of opinions on everything. (I can discuss what we did for "sleep training" in a different post if anyone thinks that would be helpful!) But there was one common thread throughout most of what I found- creating a solid nighttime routine.

Kids NEED repetition. It helps them feel secure and safe to explore within those boundaries. Setting a loose schedule for Evie every night helped her know what to expect next and got her thinking about going to sleep before we put her in her crib.

Here's what we did: (and still do to this day- though she is a MUCH better sleeper now).
*Note: This can/will look different for every family! There is no right way to do this....I'm just providing an example of what worked for us.*

-Talk about bedtime before its bedtime. This was huge for E who does not do well if we spring things on her. Preparing her an hour or so before (after dinner usually) really helped her cooperate.

- Set a routine and stick to it. Obviously, there are nights when you break the routine, and we are definitely flexible, but at first it is important to be consistent.

- Be patient. If you have a "problem sleeper" like I did, things won't change overnight (literally...). Remembering that they're learning a new skill, so to speak, will help you be more patient when things aren't progressing as fast as you wish.

Now that E is almost 2, things look a little bit differently at night, but we still follow the same guidelines as when she was learning the routine. Here is what an average night looks like in our house:

7:30 // Bath-time and brushing teeth: this is usually after we've all eaten dinner and had time to play and be crazy for a while.
Evie LOVES brushing her teeth. As with all products I use, it's important to me that I use a toothpaste I trust. I need to know that if she eats it like candy (not really, but she loves the taste of it) she will be ok. I use Tom's of Maine®'s all natural children's toothpaste in strawberry for E (they also have a fluoride-free version for babies up to 24 months). There are no dyes, flavors or fragrances in these products, so I'm not worried about letting her brush her own teeth. I picked mine up at Walmart and I'm loving it so far! 
 If you're interested in trying Tom's of Maine® for your kids, they will be hosting demos in select Walmarts on September 19th- lots of free samples and coupons.

8:00 // Wind down and read stories: during this time we keep talking about bed time and *maybe* let her watch one episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Then we let her pick which book she wants to read and who gets to read it to her.
 Lot's of snuggles and pacifier stealing happens during this time. Also, I can't get over Mara's face in this photo....
Goodnight Moon has been her favorite since she was tiny.

8:30 // Go upstairs to bed. Either Aj or I will talk her up to bed, sing her songs and rub her back (she's SO snuggly...) then tell her it's time for sleeping and let her pass out.

That's how we do it at our house. It's pretty simple so far, since Mara isn't big enough to participate yet.

I'm curious, how do those of you with kids do bedtime at your house? I'd love tips for keeping two kids on the same schedule!


A Giveaway with Oakmoss Collective

Guys, its my birthday week! I'm a little bit of a six year old when it comes to my birthday- I get way too excited and force AJ to do nice things for me all week month long. I even have a hard time falling asleep the night before. It's kind of embarrassing.

Today, to celebrate the big 22 (not officially till the 15th though!) I wanted to do a giveaway to say THANK YOU for being so supportive, encouraging and amazing. I love the community I've found in this space- you inspire me to live simply everyday.
I've teamed up with my friends at the Oakmoss Collective who have been kind enough to giveaway one of their gorgeous prints to one of my readers!

But first a little bit about them:

When I discovered Oakmoss a few months ago, I was so inspired by their mission and knew I wanted to get involved somehow. More than just another blog, Oakmoss Collective seeks to take "organic ideas and inspiration from nature, community, food, and faith, (to) encourage dreamers and creators to take steps to living a fuller, simpler life." Sounds pretty familiar right? 

Their website has a blog with posts from some seriously talented writers, some tasty recipes, swoon-worthy playlists, and a shop with lovely prints and the mug you saw above (I just got mine in the mail yesterday and I'm enjoying my daily chai in it as we speak ;). 

Here's a little video that explains their mission:

I'm so excited to support such an awesome group of creatives and hope you're as inspired by them as I am!

Here is a photo of the print you could win. It would make an adorable addition to a gallery wall or a new piece to frame by your bedside.
The giveaway ends at midnight on Friday the 18th. Good luck, friends!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


You are more than your job title

Any other Monday, we would all be getting dressed and ready for our jobs, chasing kids trying to ready them for school or doing whatever it is we "do" on a regular basis. But today is Labor Day, so we take a break, a day of rest from our normal.

Which got me thinking about the role our jobs play in our lives. 

The amount of job titles out there is kind of staggering. It's amazing that we have the freedom to pursue our dreams, work towards goals and even get paid for working.

But sometimes in the midst of going to and from work and home, the delicate balancing act we all play in some way or another, we can get lost in that job title. 

At some point- whenever we cross the gap from childhood into adulthood- people stop asking us what we want to be and instead as us what we do. As if everything we are is encompassed in this one word that we get paid to do- waitress, teacher, ceo, lawyer, stay at home mom or perhaps even (God-forbid) unemployed. All our lives we are encouraged to dream about who we want to be when we grow up but once you are handed that diploma, or if you don't get one of those it's even sooner, we are expected to know who we are and stop dreaming- most of who we are is wrapped up in a job title. 

But in reality we are so much more than that. I'm not just a stay at home mom or a writer. I'm a friend, a daughter, a wife, an introvert, someone who dreams of owning her own coffee shop, someone who really wants to travel the world, and someone who has a really immature sense of humor sometimes. 

You're not just a teacher or a student or a writer or the drive through guy at Wendy's. 

I think it is a little disheartening that we unknowingly place ourselves in the limiting box of "what do you do?" Our job title is only a small piece of the complexities and intricacies that make us up. 

So this Labor Day, as you're taking a break from what you do, pause to think about who you really are. So that next time someone asks you what you do, you can answer with more than a job title. 

So tell me, friends. What do you do? 


Letters to Mara: 2 Months

Sweet Mara,

First of all, look how big you are! When did that happen?! For just two months you're quite the chunk, and I'm loving it :)

It's hard to tell exactly what you'll be like as you grow, but I'm already getting to know you in little ways everyday. If I'm right, you're nothing like your sister- at least not so far. It will be so fun to see your personality blossom in the coming months. But from what I can tell, I'm guessing you'll be my laid back, easy going girl.

You already sleep in 6-7 hour stretches at night, which makes your momma super happy. If you're not hungry or tired, you're usually content to just sit in your swing or boppy (which you will NOT be sleeping in- we learned that lesson the hard way with your sister who wouldn't sleep anywhere else...) and look around.

You LOVE smiling and will sometimes give the biggest grin just from hearing my voice, which of course melts my heart. Your hair is dark brown and your eyes are brownish greyish, but I'm assuming they'll be brown ;) I keep hearing how much you look like me, which is nice, since I never hear that about E- she got your daddy's genes I think.

I'm so impressed with your patience. Evie loves to "help" me take care of you, which usually ends up with her accidentally kicking you or taking your paci or hugging you too hard. She is so in love with you though. Every morning when you wake up (much later than E) she likes to run into your room and yell "Hiiiiiii" and give you kisses.

I love you sweet baby and thank you for letting me get some sleep.


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